As I’ve been helping people more and more with their relationships with money, leading webinars and training for financial and therapy professionals, I have more and more seen, felt, and known – that Money Is A Window to Our Ancient Traumas. And I have more and more seen, felt, and known the layers and layers of accountability that are sorely lacking and still need to be acknowledged.
Most of the people who work with me have heard me say more than once:
You are not responsible for having been traumatized as a child, but you are responsible for doing the healing needed as a result of that trauma. Most of them understand this and are committed to doing that healing. At the same time … they long to have those who traumatized them – not always, but often parents – take responsibility for the trauma they created.
Most of the people with whom I work have parents who have never been accountable, and likely never would be accountable. But the little child still alive within has been trying for years and years, even decades and decades to get the traumatizer to take responsibility. That little child would be thrilled if the parent would just acknowledge the harm done; the child would be elated if mommy or daddy, big brother, or grandma would apologize; and the youngster would be ecstatic if the family member would commit to heal themselves so they would never cause that kind of trauma again.
This longing and the feelings they imagine feeling if the longing were fulfilled have driven that child within to turn their life inside-out and upside-down … all in an attempt to fulfill their longing. While doing that – and without realizing it – they have re-enacted their childhood trauma again and again and again.
Often that longing has been their secret goal and that re-enactment has been their recurring experience … until they began their therapy with me, discovered what they were doing, and began to allow their real goal to be their own healing.
The lack of accountability by those who traumatize children is tragic. To pretend it is less than tragic is a sign of normalizing, denying, clinging to unconsciousness, refusing to be in reality. And why would someone display those signs? Because they also, in youth, had been traumatized by someone who did not hold themselves accountable, and perhaps also by someone who nobody else held accountable. The result: they defend against their own trauma by traumatizing others.
This is no excuse. This is no permission. But it is the truth.
Even with that truth … these people need to be held accountable.
There is real value in someone taking responsibility for the harm they’ve done, but the value is distorted when it’s been created through a warped process. They need to be held accountable not by the child still alive within, but by the person, who, having done enough of the work of healing, can now hold the one who traumatizes accountable in an undistorted, healthy, life-giving way.
We have seen this kind of refusal to be held accountable all over the world … for years and decades and centuries. We have seen the trauma that results all over the world for just as long. And we can come back and talk about that another time.
For right now … What we have seen in the United States is particularly revealing. What I’ve described above about trauma, lack of accountability, and more trauma is out-pictured in what has been going on in our country. (If you’re from another country, you can look at ours and then also try applying it to yours.) In other words, what we have seen on the “national stage” is a picture of what I’ve described as occurring within families.
One part of the out-picturing:
People who were traumatized as children, whose traumatizers were not accountable, often become people who refuse to be accountable themselves, and in so doing, end up traumatizing others, both individually and collectively.
Another part of the out-picturing:
People who were traumatized as children, whose traumatizers were not accountable, often become people who take responsibility for everything, including trying to get the traumatizers to change and become accountable. But because they do it from the place of the unhealed child within, their efforts are somehow distorted and unsuccessful. And because the traumatizers they are trying to change absolutely refuse to change … their efforts are unsuccessful.
On both levels – the family level and the collective national level – we need to understand what is really occurring …
not only on the surface, but also way beneath to the inner depths of our beings as the result of our trauma from childhood; and also to the distance of our familial and even cultural past – the traumas caused and experienced in the last generation and generations before that.
On both levels we need to become accountable
each of us for our own healing to the root;
each of us for the trauma we have caused;
each of us for our part in the out-picturing of trauma into our country and our world.
If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, how can we hold others accountable?
If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, how can we hold our culture accountable?
If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, how can we heal ourselves?
If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, how can we heal our culture … our world?
© Judith Barr, 2021